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Chapter 3: Metal-Core Boards
Conceptually, a metal-core board is exactly like it sounds—the metal is in the middle of the PCB sandwiched between layers on both sides. Just about any PCBA that will contain active heat-generating components can benefit when designed on a metal-core PCB. On a conventional PCB, the standard FR-4 layers are relatively poor thermal conductors, and heat is normally dissipated from active components using vias and thermal pads, as discussed earlier. A metal core has much greater thermal conductivity, allowing it to easily dissipate heat away from active components. This prevents hot spots that can form in PCBs by dissipating heat evenly across the PCB and increasing performance and lifetime.
One example would be in the LED lighting industry, where LEDs produce a significant amount of energy and heat. A metal-core PCB has two benefits in this application: it provides some natural reflectivity for any light that travels toward the substrate, increasing the device brightness; and the other is extending the life of the product by quickly transferring heat away from the LEDs.
To download The Printed Circuit Designer’s Guide to…Thermal Management: A Fabricator’s Perspective, click here. You can also view other titles in our full library. Check out other books from American Standard Circuits, including The Printed Circuit Designer’s Guide to… Fundamentals of RF/Microwave PCBs and Flex and Rigid-Flex Fundamentals.